The Battle of Perryville

A bloody battle between Major General Buell's U.S. Army and General Bragg's Confederate Army was fought at Perryville in Boyle County on October 7th and 8th, 1862. Doctor's Creek, Bull Run, and Wilson's Creek are tributaries to Chaplin River that flow through Perryville. The drought of 1862 continued and prevented these streams from flowing freely. The remaining pools may have been scum covered but that remaining water was vital to both armies. During the battle, thirst added to the normal misery of combat because the drought imposed shortages of water for both soldiers and horses. In the two-day battle, over 1,300 men were killed and over 5,400 men were wounded. After the battle, the Confederates abandoned Kentucky. They took a large supply of confiscated horses, mules, beef cattle, bacon, pork, and flour with them in a wagon train said by the climate observer in Pine Grove to be forty miles long!

Danville Kentucky Weather
8-9 October 1862
During the
Battle of Perryville

October saw the drought of 1862 deepen and the shortage of water become critical. Kentuckians began the anticipation of the difficulties of entering winter without the usual storehouse of food - both human and animal food. Professor Ormond Beatty at Centre College in Danville in Boyle County had not recorded any precipitation since 17 September 1862 when 0.30 inch fell and brought September's total to a critically low 0.95 inch. Now on 8 October 1862, the 21st consecutive dry day, water must have been on the mind of each soldier as the battle at Perryville began. At 7 a.m. that Wednesday morning, Professor Beatty logged the temperature as 72°F under a sky with only a few high stratus and cirrus clouds moving from the southwest and a pressure of 29.00 inches. Without clouds to interfere, the temperature rose to 90°F by 2 p.m. but even the strong southerly wind that rose during the afternoon would not have reduced the heat. The battle raged on after dark under the light of a full moon. By 9 p.m., it had cooled to 72°F but only a gentle southerly wind blew. By then, the battle was over and during the night, the Confederates withdrew southward. When morning came (9 October 1862), another dry hot day began with the temperature reaching 88°F. October had up to then behaved like a summer month with four 90°F days. But, fall arrived on 10 October 1862 when 0.50 inch of rain fell, the 15 mph wind came from the north, and temperature rose only to 66°F that afternoon. The pressure bottomed out at 28.90 inches and began to rise. Rapid cooling dropped the temperature to 52°F by the next morning. The troops who had been hot and miserable the day before were now wet and shivering from the cold.